ESPN is expanding its block of Spanish-language sports programming into a
24-hour network next year, officials said Monday.
ESPN, part of The Walt Disney Co., will launch ESPN Deportes as a stand-alone
network in the third quarter of next year. Currently, ESPN Deportes is a
separately produced program block, incorporating Spanish-language commentary and
graphics, which runs Sunday nights.
'Providing ESPN-branded content in Spanish is a major step forward in ESPN's
commitment to serving a diverse, growing fan base,' ESPN president George
Bodenheimer said in a prepared statement.
'In true ESPN fashion, it's exciting to combine the talent and expertise of
our domestic and international teams to deliver live events from the United
States and around the world, sports news and the world's largest library of
sports programming,' he added.
The ESPN Deportes program block is now distributed to 13 million subscribers,
and it has presented full seasons of ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball and
Sunday Night NFL telecasts.
The new network will report to Russell Wolff, senior vice president and
managing director of ESPN International.
ESPN executive VP of affiliate sales and marketing Sean Bratches said the
ESPN Deportes block is widely distributed throughout the multichannel community.
'Virtually everybody carries it. I'm hard-pressed to think of someone who
doesn't,' he added. Bratches said much of the syndicated ESPN Deportes is
currently made available on local-origination channels.
As for pricing, ESPN did not provide specifics. 'The product will be priced
reflective of its value,' Bratches said, without elaboration.
He noted that the network would be targeted hard to the '5 [million] to 6
million multichannel Hispanic homes in the United States.'
ESPN envisions the network as a 'driver of Spanish digital tiers, or as
digital basic,' Bratches said. 'We'll be crafting deals that will fill our
Bratches said affiliates will receive two minutes of local ad time per hour,
and they will be encouraged to run the spots in Spanish -- something ESPN will
do on the national level.
He added that ESPN Deportes will allow affiliates to grab a piece of a
growing advertising pie that for the most part has been the province of
newspapers. 'Newspapers receive the lion's share of local Hispanic ad revenues.
This will add value for affiliates,' he said.
ESPN Deportes, which translates to 'ESPN Sports,' has its roots back in 2000,
when ESPN and Major League Baseball agreed to provide ESPN's affiliates the
right to carry a limited number of Spanish-language Sunday Night Baseball
telecasts. ESPN Deportes launched as a weekly block in April 2001.
ESPN officials said ESPN Deportes will help cable operators to make greater
inroads in the Hispanic market.
In addition to MLB and NFL games, ESPN Deportes will offer National
Basketball Association contests, European soccer matches, Pacific League
Baseball, ONEFA college football from Mexico, the Copa American Volleyball
tournament and both the U.S. and Latin American summer and winter X Games.
A separately produced SportsCenter will be a key part of the lineup,
which will also include Gol ESPN: Fuera de Juego, a roundtable discussion
of soccer, and ESPN Perfiles, a half-hour interview show.
Bratches said the rights deals that ESPN has secured domestically and
internationally enable ESPN Deportes to showcase these events as part of a